Even though they know it’s dangerous, many American drivers still talk on a cellphone or text while behind the wheel, a new survey finds. In fact, the number of drivers who say they talk regularly or fairly often on their cellphone while driving has actually risen 46 percent since 2013, the pollsters say. More than 2,600 licensed drivers, aged 16 and older, were questioned for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey. Nearly 58 percent said talking on a cellphone while driving is a very serious threat to their safety, while 78 percent said texting is a significant danger. Yet nearly half of the respondents said they recently talked on a hand-held phone while driving. And more than one-third had sent a text or email while driving, according to the survey. “With more than 37,000 deaths on U.S. roads in 2016, we need to continue finding ways to limit driving distractions and improve traffic safety,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The foundation’s work offers insight on drivers’ attitudes toward traffic safety and their behaviors, so we can better understand the issue and identify potential countermeasures to reduce crashes,” he added in a foundation news release. Drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times more likely to crash, and those who text are up to eight times…  read on >

Millions of Americans buy marijuana online illegally, a new study found. “Anyone, including teenagers, can search for and buy marijuana from their smartphone, regardless of what state they live in,” said study leader John Ayers. He’s an associate research professor at San Diego State University’s School of Public Health. In the study, Ayers’ team examined Google searches about buying marijuana by Americans between January 2005 and June 2017. During that time, there was a threefold increase in such searches, peaking at between 1.4 million and 2.4 million searches a month. Marijuana shopping searches were highest in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, where recreational marijuana use is legal. But such searches increased each year in all but two states — Alabama and Mississippi. That suggests online shopping for the drug is increasing nationwide, the researchers said. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that broadly expand the legal use of marijuana. The researchers also found that 41 percent of marijuana shopping search results linked to retailers advertising mail-order marijuana delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, commercial parcel companies or private couriers. Online sales of marijuana are illegal, even in states that have fully or partially legalized the drug, “but clearly these regulations are failing,” said study co-author Eric Leas, a research fellow at Stanford University. Immediate action is needed to halt online…  read on >

U.S. war veterans who sustained severe combat wounds and have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk for high blood pressure, a new study says. The study included nearly 3,900 military veterans who had been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan from February 2002 to February 2011. Their average age when they were wounded was 26. More than 14 percent of the veterans developed high blood pressure at least 90 days after being wounded. The severity of the injuries and how frequently PTSD was noted in their medical records after the wounding separately affected their risk for high blood pressure. “What we found surprised us,” said study senior author Dr. Ian Stewart, a major at the U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California. For every 5-point increase on a 75-point injury severity score, the risk for high blood pressure rose 5 percent. Veterans with an injury severity score of 25 or lower and no recorded PTSD diagnosis had the lowest risk for high blood pressure, according to the study. Compared with veterans with no PTSD diagnosis, the risk for high blood pressure was 85 percent higher among those who had PTSD noted one to 15 times in their medical records — indicating chronic PTSD. High blood pressure was 114 percent more likely among veterans with PTSD noted more…  read on >

For people who have both type 2 diabetes and heart failure, new research offers a mixed message on taking a daily low-dose aspirin. The study found the daily pill can reduce the risk for heart failure-related hospitalization and death in people who have both conditions. However, it also found that a daily aspirin raises their risk for nonfatal heart attack and stroke. The findings came from the analysis of data from more than 12,000 residents of the United Kingdom, 55 and older. They all had heart failure and type 2 diabetes, but no history of heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease or the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation. During a five-year span, those who took a low-dose aspirin a day were 10 percent less likely to have been hospitalized or to have died because of heart failure than those who did not. But they were 50 percent more likely to have had a nonfatal heart attack or stroke. Aspirin is a blood thinner that reduces the risk for blood clots. Both heart failure and diabetes increase the risk for blood clots that can lead to heart attack and stroke. About 27 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and about 6.5 million U.S. adults have heart failure, the researchers said. Though a low-dose daily aspirin is recommended for people who’ve had a…  read on >

An electronic health record, or EHR, is the digital version of the paper records documenting your health care. These online records are an advance in health management in many ways. These records mean fewer and shorter forms to fill out at appointments. Your information gets to all of your providers so they can coordinate your care and prevent problems like harmful drugs interactions. You won’t need to repeat tests for different doctors because they all have access to all of your results. And you can more easily access your records to better track your care. Electronic health records can improve: Your care and care coordination. Your role in your care. The accuracy of your diagnoses. Health care costs. But what about the safety of your records? HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules were enacted to keep your health information secure, requiring health care providers and health plans to safeguard both paper and electronic records. Providers must assess the security of their EHR systems, follow technical safeguards, and have risk-management policies and procedures in place to evaluate, address and prevent risks. They must also notify you and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of any breach, plus notify the media and the general public if the breach affects more than 500 people. Portal security safeguards should include: Instituting controls, including passwords. Encrypting your information. Doing…  read on >

Driver fatigue causes many more car accidents in the United States than previously estimated, a new report suggests. The finding comes from an analysis of several months’ worth of video recordings taken of nearly 3,600 Americans while they were driving. During that time, participating drivers were involved in 700 accidents. All participants’ vehicles had been outfitted with a dash-cam video recorder. That allowed researchers to analyze each driver’s face in the minutes right before crashing. The researchers also had video of the road scene in front of the drivers. Together, the footage suggested that the percentage of accidents involving sleepy drivers was about eight times higher than current federal estimates. The finding was highlighted in a report released Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The foundation describes the investigation into drowsy driving as the most in-depth of its kind to date. “Driver drowsiness is a notoriously difficult problem to quantify because it typically doesn’t leave behind evidence that a police officer can observe after the fact when investigating a crash — in contrast to alcohol, for example,” said Brian Tefft, a senior research associate with the foundation in Washington, D.C. “Thus, we expected that our study would find that the problem was substantially bigger than the official statistics from the U.S. DOT [Department of Transportation] suggest,” he said. “But we were still surprised…  read on >